The Passing of Dennis Johnson

What a shock!

Former Celtics great Dennis Johnson dies at 52

The Associated Press

February 22, 2007, 4:48 PM CST

AUSTIN, Texas — Dennis Johnson, the star NBA guard who was part of three championship teams and combined with Larry Bird in one of the great postseason plays, died Thursday after collapsing at the end of practice while coaching a developmental team. He was 52.

I’m completely ashamed that I forgot to add Dennis Johnson to the all-underrated/role player list that Casey started a couple weeks ago. And I’m saddened by the unexpected passing of someone so young … and someone who was one of those critical players on one of those great teams we followed as kids when we really became fans of the game. I remember Dennis Johnson as a critical cog to the lone Supersonics championship and probably even better on those great Celtics teams with Bird and McHale during their era of battles with the Pistons and Lakers. DJ was truly a great basketball player in all facets of the game — offense, defense, you name it. A great teammate and reportedly a real class person off the court, too. If you were going to make a basketball instructional video and could use only one player to do it, DJ would be at the top of your list — he did everything fundamentally well and was not a showboat.

Moment of silence, please, to commemorate the sudden passing of a great athlete and person from our youth. Thoughts or comments from others on Dennis Johnson are appreciated.

Wally

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College Hoop Scoop — midseason Q’s

Going into this weekend, most college hoops team are about halfway through their conference schedules. Various sites are beginning to post early drafts of the NCAA tournament brackets, which of course will be changing on a weekly basis. Most hoops fanatics really begin digging in their heels right now as games become more important, especially for teams that haven’t performed as expected and others that may be slumping lately … both are fearful of being on the wrong side of the proverbial bubble. So as Wally takes a look at the hoops landscape, there are questions that need answers … or at least speculative answers from those of you on our panel of experts:
1) Is Wisconsin a legitimate contender for a #1 seed? How do they do it? I know they’ve got Tucker, but they also got 4 ____ ________. And why are they ranked behind Ohio St, who they’ve beaten?

2) Is the hype surrounding Ohio St a bit overblown? Sure they’ve got a GREAT freshman class with Oden, etc, but they were beaten handily by No. Carolina and Florida. Just don’t see them as a #1 seed yet, but let’s see how they do in their next game vs the Badgers.

3) At least Duke’s Womens team is really good. Thank God they beat UNC the day after the Duke Men lost to UNC, or else the Dukies would all be visiting shrinks right now. Seriously, are the Duke Blue Devils merely going through a slump with 3 L’s in a row, or are they just an average team this year?

4) It appears we have the makings of a real “Hoosiers” cinderella story again this year. Can the Butler Bulldogs make it all the way to the Elite 8 or better? Why or why not?

5) Has anyone seen Air Force play? Are they legit? I think it’s simply amazing that they are in the Top 15.

6) Any reason why Florida won’t win it all again this year? Which team is most capable of unseating them?

7) Which of the conferences appears strongest so far this season? Seems the Pac 10 has the most depth.

8) Why can’t Notre Dame be at least as consistently good as Marquette is? Is it coaching or talent? Both? Another frustrating close loss by the Irish to DePaul last night. Won’t be surprised if ND bubbles themselves out of the tournament again. 6 losses and counting … they have not been a very good homestretch team.

9) Who’s your surprise team that will appear in the Final 4 this year … ala George Mason?

10) Who’s gonna win the Naismith Player of the Year award?

The Last Word

Congratulations to the Colts and their fans !!! Your first major league world championship in any sport is now a reality. You deserved to win the Super Bowl on Sunday and have persevered many years to get to this point. The Colts are NFL Super Bowl Champions … now carry the trophy with dignity and try to act like you’ve been there before (even though you haven’t been there before).

To the Bears: very nice season, but you were totally outclassed by the Colts in just about every facet of the game. Although the game set up nicely in the early going for the Bears with the kickoff return and an 8 point lead midway through the 2nd quarter, didn’t we all kind of feel that the Colts would eventually overtake the Bears? And of course they did rather easily. The Bears were out-coached, out-hustled, out-played, out-blocked out-tackled, out-scored. They Bears were simply “outed” from this game and beaten by a better team. The Colts proved to be the tougher team on Sunday, too, despite a reputation for being soft. And I believe that’s why they won.

Peyton Manning proved to be a huge difference, although it wasn’t just him. Indy played great as an entire unit starting early in the second quarter and really manhandled the Bears, although the score was much closer than the stats would indicate until the 4th. It seemed as though the Bears played very conservatively on offense, and this would eventually haunt them. Defensively, they never recovered from being burnt on their first blitz, so they never blitzed again and Manning picked them apart with short passes. The Bears should have blitzed more … they never touched Manning and he was free to do as he pleased. So what if you got burnt on the first one … does that mean you totally abandon the game plan??? I thought the Bears played “not to lose”, very conservatively, and this contributed greatly to the loss. It’s like they were waiting for the rain to help cause a Colts fumble deep in Colts territory, but it never happened.

Lastly, Rex Grossman lost his composure in the second half, which was certainly a fear of Bears fans going in. First there were the fumbled snaps in the 3rd quarter and the absolutely fatal INT in the fourth. On the INT, what exactly was that???? It’s second and one on about the 45 … a down where you go for a long-gainer … and he throws a half-hearted wounded duck right to the Colts defender. After the pump fake, wasn’t that supposed to be thrown about 20-30 more yards downfield to a streaking WR??? Talk about essentially giving the game away on one play … that was it. You just can’t make crap plays like that in a Super Bowl. Now the Bears need to wonder if they can go the distance with Rex. Maybe this was a learning experience for a young team who will come back smarter and more resolute next year. Or maybe they’ll just turn into the recent version of the Seattle Seahawks. Anyway, I’m disappointed as a Bears fan that we didn’t play more competitively … forget about not winning … but could we at least have mounted 250 yards of total offense and maybe 12 first downs???? Is that asking too much??? This wasn’t just Rex though … it was a total team loss. Coaching and strategy were very shakey, the defense and just plain tackling were quite subpar, and of course the offense did very little after the first quarter. But give credit to the Colts. They were the superior team by far on Sunday. They should challenge for the crown again next season. Way to go Peyton Manning!!!

Bears fans … get over it … we were lucky to be playing in the game Sunday … very lucky. Pitchers and catchers report for spring training in a couple weeks …. and March Madness will be here before we know it. Have a great week.

Wally